Idyllwild native Brendan Steele teamed with Keegan Bradley, his close friend from Nationwide Tour days, to win the PGA Tour’s 2011 Franklin Templeton “Shark” Shootout at the Tiburón Golf Club in Naples, Fla., last week.
The two PGA Tour rookies posted a 32-under-par score over the three days of competition on the par 72 course that consisted of a first round of modified alternate shot, a second round of better ball, and a third round of scramble play, winning themselves $375,000 each in the process.
Steele and Bradley both contributed solidly to the win. In the first round, the Idyllwild native blasted in from the greenside bunker on hole 14 for an eagle, then made a 30-foot putt from off the green at number 16 for a birdie. The pair combined for a nine-under par opening round that included a 28 on the back nine.
A second-round highlight included Steele’s second shot on the 374-yard, par-4 10th hole, which left him only a five-footer for birdie, and the two rookies finished the day with the tournament lead at 19 under par.
In their press interview after the second round, Steele, whose previous win this year was the Valero Texas Open in April, said that playing good golf in this tournament with a good friend as his partner had been “the most fun I’ve had all year, for sure.”
Bradley, who had two prior wins this year, including the PGA Championship in August, stated that this had been the most enjoyable tournament of the year for him also, pointing out that it was a real team effort because they were both playing so well.
“It’s easy to have fun when you shoot 19-under in two days,” he said.
In the final scramble round, Steele knocked in a 14-footer at the par-3 12th hole for birdie, then followed with the PGATour.com Shot of the Day, a 35-foot putt from 15 feet off the green for another eagle on number 14. He virtually sealed the victory with his second shot on the 435-yard par-4 15th hole to within three feet of the pin for another birdie.
The Franklin Templeton “Shark” Shootout, long hosted by tour great Greg Norman, was the last PGA Tour event of the year, but as a post-season tournament it did not count toward the players’ official money list winnings.
The victorious pair will be adversaries in the first tournament of the new 2012 season. The Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii, for which both Steele and Bradley are eligible, will be held the first week of January.
Editor’s note: For those readers unfamilar with the team golf terms, Jack Clark has provided the following explanations: In “modified alternate shot” play, both players hit tee shots and select which one to play. Then they alternate playing shots on that one ball until they hole out. The second shot belongs to the player whose tee shot was not selected.
In “better ball,” each player plays his own ball. The better of the two players scores on the hole counts as the team score for the hole.
In “scramble,” both players hit tee shots and select which is better. They then each play a ball from that spot, and again select the better shot. Play continues in like manner for every shot played until one of them holes out.